It has not been a good week. To be sure, Bibi is finally gone but the Patriot Act has been renewed without any debate through political chicanery by Harry Reid. And there is considerable danger that the “overseas contingency operations,” as the Obama Administration refers to its war on terror, will increase in number after yesterday’s House of Representatives approval of the $690 billion Defense Appropriation Bill. A section of the bill referred to as the “Authorization for the Use of Military Force” will permit the president to wage war against anyone anywhere without any specific approval by congress, an expansion of the executive authority approved by the legislature to pursue al-Qaeda which was granted in the aftermath of 9/11. Only it no longer has to be al-Qaeda and, given the elasticity in the definition of the enemy, it means that the war on terror will go on forever. Any group or even individual will do to keep the global conflict going. The head of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano believes that the Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba is “an equal danger to (sic) al-Qaeda,” while former Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage considers Lebanon’s Hezbollah as the “A team” of terrorists. The fact that neither group actually threatens the United States appears to be irrelevant. Congressman Buck McKeon, the drafter of the relevant section of the appropriation bill, has stated that “the threats posed by al-Qaeda cells in Yemen and Africa underscore the evolving and continuing nature of the terrorist threat to the United States.”
The authorization also expands the understanding of what constitutes an “enemy” since anyone can be so designated. The new rule will be that an enemy is anyone so identified by the president because of his or her “hostility” towards the United States. That also means that there will be no judicial process for those accused and they can safely be whisked off to Guantanamo Prison for further processing or not as the case might be. The new law is not yet in place but there is every indication that the president will sign it. Its first victim is likely to be suspected Hezbollah official Ali Mussa Daqduq even though Hezbollah had nothing to do with 9/11. Five Republican senators have already demanded that Daqduq be tried at Guantanamo rather than in a federal court.